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People v. Hobson

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District

March 12, 2014

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
KENNETH HOBSON, Defendant-Appellant

Appeal from the Circuit Court Of Cook County, No. 04 CR 14191. The Honorable Nicholas R. Ford, Judge Presiding.

Reversed and remanded.

FOR DEFENDANT-APPELLANT: Michael J. Pelletier, deputy Defender, Office of the State Appellate Defender, Chicago, Illinois; Alan D. Goldberg, Autumn Renee Fincher, Of Counsel.

FOR PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE: Anita Alvarez, State's Attorney, County of Cook, Chicago, Illinois; Alan J. Spellberg, John E. Nowak, Clare Wesolik Connolly, Of Counsel.

JUSTICE NEVILLE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Hyman specially concurred, with opinion. Justice Mason specially concurred, with opinion.

OPINION

NEVILLE, JUSTICE

Page 787

[¶1] Following a bench trial, the trial court found Kenneth Hobson guilty of murder. The appellate court affirmed the conviction. People v. Hobson, 375 Ill.App.3d 1139 (2007) (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23). Hobson filed a postconviction petition in 2008. Court-appointed counsel filed a supplemental postconviction petition. The circuit

Page 788

court dismissed the postconviction petition and its supplement without holding an evidentiary hearing. On this appeal, we find that Hobson made a substantial showing that he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel. We reverse the trial court's decision and remand for an evidentiary hearing.

[¶2] BACKGROUND

[¶3] On October 25, 2001, Demond Williams rented a van for Hobson to use for a week. On October 27, 2001, Shaughnessy Tate died from multiple gunshot wounds on a street on the west side of Chicago. Police found two kinds of glass on the street near Tate. On October 29, 2001, Hobson brought the rented van back to Williams. The van had a broken window on the passenger side. Hobson and Williams took the van to a shop, which repaired the window. They reported to police that the glass broke during an altercation with men whose names they did not know. Hobson and Williams then returned the van to the place from which Williams rented it.

[¶4] Two and a half years later, in May 2004, police arrested Hobson and charged him with murder. Police detective Mike Dyra talked to Travis Weston about the murder. Police spoke with Hobson's sister Valerie Harper, and Rashaan Smith, the father of Harper's children. Weston, Harper and Smith signed statements about the murder and testified before a grand jury, which returned an indictment accusing Hobson of murder. At Hobson's bench trial, the prosecution relied primarily on Williams's uncontested testimony about renting and returning the van, the testimony of Dyra about the statements Harper, Smith and Weston made to police, and the out-of-court statements and grand jury testimony of Harper, Smith and Weston.

[¶5] Weston testified that he knew nothing about the murder. Police picked him up on a warrant in 2004, and then transferred him to Dyra's custody for questioning. Dyra told Weston that a witness had named Weston as the person who shot Tate. Dyra threatened to charge Weston with murder if he did not sign a statement police wrote out for him to sign.

[¶6] According to the statement Weston signed, on October 27, 2001, Hobson drove a van with Derrick Rayton and his brother, Jermaine Rayton, Weston, and one other person as passengers. Hobson saw Tate and pulled up next to Tate's car. The Rayton brothers shot through the van's window at Tate. Hobson then drove to Harper's home, where they met Harper and Smith. The Raytons told Smith they shot Tate. Hobson celebrated with the Raytons.

[¶7] Weston testified before the grand jury in accord with the signed statement. At trial, Weston explained that he signed the false statement and testified falsely to the grand jury because he feared prosecution for murder and punishment for violation of his probation, for which police had a warrant.

[¶8] Harper testified that the Raytons and Weston came to her home on October 27, 2001. She heard one of the Raytons say, " I shot him," then she heard someone else say, " you shot right through the window." Smith told her they were talking about shooting Tate. Harper testified that during questioning in 2004, police advised her to name the Raytons as the shooters to help Hobson escape prosecution. Harper admitted that she testified to the grand jury that she heard Hobson say, " those stupid asses were shooting and they shot the windows out."

[¶9] The prosecutor asked Harper about statements she made to police on May 11, 2004. Harper said she told police that she

Page 789

heard someone say, " you are all stupid asses, you shot right through the window." An assistant State's Attorney testified, without objection, that Harper told her Hobson said the Raytons shot through the van's window.

[¶10] Smith testified that he went to Harper's home on October 27, 2001. Smith saw Hobson there, but Smith did not see the Rayton brothers or Weston. Smith admitted that he spoke to Dyra in 2003, and he then signed a statement about the murder. Smith testified that police officers " wrote [it] down and made [him] sign it." Prosecutors elicited Smith's testimony, without objection, that according to the statement he signed, he saw Hobson with Weston and the Rayton brothers on ...


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